Wednesday, October 9, 2013

simplicity in a carrot (recipes: glazed carrots & curried carrot soup)

During my first quarter in culinary school I attended a course called Intro to Culinary Skills.  It was a broad course, taught by a competition chef that covered knife skills, plating, timing and the basics of all cookery.  During our week of root vegetable cookery our chef instructor asked us to ignore the recipe in our notebook-carrots reminiscent of Thanksgiving, glazed in brown sugar and maple syrup.  The recipe looked divine, however I found myself reluctantly slicing carrots on the bias as the chef scribbled his recipe loosely on the blackboard.

Carrots, butter, chicken stock, salt and pepper, parsley.  That was it.  It was so simple, maybe even too simple.  I added a knob of butter into the warmed saute pan and swirled it into a sizzling foam.  Chopped carrots were tossed into the hot fat and glistened as they were coated in butter.  A shower of salt and pepper was added.  A pouring of chicken stock spattered and sputtered as I added the liquid half way up the carrots.  I increase the fire to bring everything to a boil, covered the pan and lowered the heat.
Once the carrots were tender, I removed them from the pan and set them aside.  Carrot infused chicken stock puddled the saute pan.  I amped up the heat and boiled the liquid, constantly swirling it around in the pan.  With a little patience and sizzling hot spots a carrot infused reduction glistened in the pan.  A dot of butter, carrots and a sprinkling of parsley were tossed back into the pan and coated with the glaze. It was simple and it was simply delicious.

Simply Glazed Carrots
serves 4-6
2 bunches of carrots, peeled
1-2 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper
1-2 cups chicken stock
Parsley, chopped (optional)
  1. To cut carrots into even chunks, begin at the tapered end and cut the carrot at the diagonal.  As you slice up toward the wider end, rotate the carrot one quarter turn creating uniform pieces.  Need a visual, check out this tutorial.
  2. Add one tablespoon of butter into a saute pan and heat it until melted and foamy.  Add carrots and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add chicken stock halfway up the carrots and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are tender but not mushy.
  4. Remove carrots from the pan and return heat to high.  Swirl the pan to move the liquid around until it reduces into a glaze.  Add carrots back to the pan and toss in the glaze.  Add parsley (optional).  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Curried Carrot Soup (a non-recipe recipe)
Pardon the loose instructions to this soup recipe.  It is a product of leftovers and a quiet lunch on a slow fall day.  Amounts really are dependent on how much carrots are left over from the night before, so it really is an eyeball-it kind of recipe.  Make it your own-I know you can!

Toss left over carrots and a cup of chicken stock onto a small sauce pot.  Heat gently and puree with an immersion blender (alternatively, use a blender but be careful buzzing hot liquids around, they tend to expand and can explode out the top).  Add more stock if soup is too thick.  Add salt, pepper, a pinch of curry powder and a whisper of cayenne pepper.  Add the juice of 1/2 of a small lemon.  Stir and adjust seasonings.  Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt, pita crisps and chopped cilantro.

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